It was almost funny, that such a small piece of plastic could change my life so dramatically. That in such a small space of time, fifteen to twenty minutes, I could either laugh in relief or bow my head and cry in desperation. I laughed wearily, without humour, and placed my head in my hands. But that was the thing, it really wasn't all that funny. In all honesty, those fifteen minutes were maybe the longest minutes of my life. Every click of my watch hand turning seemed to last five seconds, rather than the usual one. At one point I glanced at my watch and shook it angrily, unable to believe that only one minute had past since I had last
looked. But, as it is apt to do, the time passed. The shrill alarm of my watch sounded. I glanced once more, slowly, at the tube. And felt my heart stop still for that one second of realisation. My head bowed down, and I cried in desperation, as I knew I would. The walls were closing in; the cold felt suddenly like loneliness, the water in the tube was pink. I was pregnant.
Someone once told me that the worse moment of your life is looking back and realizing that you haven't lived it to the fullest. Bullshit. The worse moment of your life is realizing you've dug yourself a nice, big, deep mushy hole and you have no one to blame for it but yourself. It's realizing that you're not the only one who's going to have to pay for your mistake. It's sitting on the cold, hard tiled floor, hugging your knees to your chest, rocking backwards and forwards and wishing that your mum was there, next to you, to tell you that everything is going to be alright. A sudden knock at the door shocked me out of my tears. I removed my fingers from my mouth and cleared my throat in a vain attempt to sound as though I was feeling normal, which god knows I wasn't.
"Y-yeah? What?" My voice sounded feeble and stunned even to my own ears.
"Jodie wants to know what you want for dinner? And, uh Sara, are you all right? You've been in there for a long time." Out of my three roommates, Joey was my favourite, my confidante, and my best friend. I hated lying to him but…
"Yeah I'm fine. Must've been that Indian food last night." I mustered up a feeble laugh. "Tell Jodie that I don't mind what we eat…as long as it's not Indian."
The relief was evident in Joey's voice. "Sure sweetie. Coming out soon?"
I glanced at the tube once more, and injected a false happiness into my voice. "Sure am!" And threw the tube into the bin.
Later, at the table, mixing my food around on my plate, I regretted not telling Joey straight away. As I glanced up at his face, his brows furrowed as he struggled to pick up a wily piece of spaghetti, I sighed.
He looked up immediately, the spaghetti forgotten.
"Look, sweetie, I know there's something wrong…you're killing me with that puppy dog face!"
I glanced over at my other two roommates, Jodie and Simon, who were deep in conversation, arguing as usual, something about pollution, electric cars, and the wonders and pitfalls of technology. Stuff that seemed to be at that moment so trivial.
Gazing at Joey I mouthed the words "I'm pregnant." Tears gathered in my eyes.
"You're what? Pregnant?" He clapped his hand over his mouth, and an immediate apologetic look sprang into his eyes. Jodie and Simon jerked their heads up simultaneously, their conversation lost.
Jodie was the first to react, much as I'd thought she would. "It was that Phil guy wasn't it? Fuck, I knew he was a bastard the second I lay eyes on him. Didn't I Simon? Didn't I tell you he was trouble? FUCK! Didn't you use protection, for chrissakes?" I watched as Simon placed a warning hand on her leg.
"I mean, honestly Sara! How could you be so stupid? What about AIDS's and stuff? You told him didn't you? That's why he ran off? Cause he already knew you were preggers, right? What a prick!"
Fresh tears stung my already sore eyes.
"We used protection Jodie! I know all that shit about AIDS's and pregnancy and..and…the condom broke! We didn't know until..until.." I broke down. "It wasn't my fault!" I felt like such a cop out. Trying once again to place the blame on someone else. Jodie's face softened.
"I'm so sorry..It was uhh a shock, sweetie. I'm sorry." She tried to place her hand on my shoulder, but I shook her away.
Joey cleared his throat uneasily. "So..ummm what are you going to do? About the baby and all I mean?"
Simon, who had been quiet throughout, spoke up. "Well she can't keep it, mate! She's only nineteen!"
"Well, if she wants to keep it, she can! It's her decision…"
I couldn't believe it. They were speaking as if I wasn't even in the room. I pushed my chair back loudly, throwing my napkin down onto the table, shocking them into silence.
"I am here you know," I paused for a second to clear my voice. "And if you want me I'll be in my bedroom thinking about my huge decision." Then I stalked out of the room and slammed the door.
I flipped the page of the magazine absent-mindedly. The room smelt like a hospital, and the muffled whispers of the other patients made me nervous. The clinic waiting room was small and cramped, with walls painted pink in a vain attempt to relax the patients. How anyone could relax whilst making perhaps one of the biggest decisions of their lives was beyond me, but, I had to give them a hand for trying. As I stared down at the open page in front of me, a photo of a beautiful model in a swimsuit spread, I wondered if I was making the right decision. Was killing off a human life right? Would I go to hell? Or, which was more important, me living my life, or my unborn fetus living theirs? I was interrupted from my thoughts by a pretty, dark haired girl in a short blue dress as she sat in the chair next to me. As I glanced up, she smiled, showing straight white teeth. I smiled back uncomfortably, mindful of my dirty overalls and messy, shoved up hair. I glanced down at the page again, hoping she would take the pretty obvious hint and leave me alone.
"Hi! I'm Becky!" Her voice was hushed yet perky, and I groaned inwardly. Trust her to have a name like Becky. I smiled through gritted teeth.
"I'm Sara." I flipped another page.
"My sister is in here for an abortion. Pretty scary place, huh?" I glanced up, quickly, nodding. She continued, lowering her voice slightly as she confided in me. "It's her second abortion, so she's not as nervous this time, but, you know how it is? She's still worried." I nodded again. I knew exactly how the poor girl felt. I cleared my throat uneasily.
"Has she ever had any regrets? Uhh, second thoughts? 'Cause..I'm sorta, uhh not sure about my decision, and uhh… " I blushed. "You know." Her face blanched as she looked at me.
"No. She's never had any regrets. Ever." She picked up her own magazine and began quickly turning the pages. I'd obviously hit a sore point. As I was mustering up the courage to apologize, a tall, dark girl stumbled out into the waiting room, held up by a nurse. Becky stood up, and turning to me, said stiffly, "It was nice talking to you." As she turned her back, I giggled, surprising myself. I glanced around the room, and realised that most of the girls there had something in common. They looked utterly miserable. Sure, there were a few that were smiling in nervous relief, but the majority of girls looked as though they were about to make the worst decision of their lives. A couple of them even looked as if the decision had already been made for them. A small red haired girl sat forlorn, her mother seated next to her. The mother sported a triumphant smirk. I frowned uneasily. Did I have any right to play God like this? My stomach flipped over in a sudden rush and I sighed. A rush of relief spread through my body and I finally knew I had made the right decision.
The nurse strode into the room, grasping a folder and a blue pen, an understanding smile on her face.
"Sara? Sara Johnson?"
I stood, wobbly, and raised my hand slightly.
"That's me. But I'm not sure I want to be here." She frowned slowly, and gestured with her right hand.
"Through here please."
"NO!" My voice came out stronger than I had expected and I flinched. "I'm sorry. No, I can't do this. It has to be my decision." Out of the corner of my eye I saw the red haired girl look accusingly at her mother.
The nurse smiled uneasily. "Yes, dear, of course. Would you like a few more moments?"
I laughed. "No. I want to fucking leave." And leaving the stunned gasps of the nurses and patients behind me, I walked quickly into the street, running the entire way home.
The first thing I saw when I awoke was Joey. His big blue eyes, knotty blonde curls and fair skin, furrowed on the forehead in a worried frown.
"Honey? Sleeping beauty? Are you actually awake this time? You had me worried."
I sat up wearily, wiping my eyes. My head throbbed and the room stunk of cheap whisky and cigars. I didn't smoke cigars.
"What the fuck? Why does my room smell like smoke? I'm pregnant you know, no one can smoke around my baby it might hurt it." I hugged my tummy, realising I was slurring my words. "And J-joey…if anyone smokes around little baby here…you'll get them won't you? You'll hit them good!" I giggled.
"Honey..I've never hit a girl and I'm not going to start now." He smiled wryly, with no humour. "And I think the smell of smoke is the least of your problems." I gasped, stunned sober.
"It was me?" Joey nodded sadly. "But..I only just..when did..huh?"
Joey sighed. "You came home from the clinic, panting..you ran all the way you said..then u ran into your bedroom, stopping only to grab a couple of bottles of whisky and Simon's cigars. You've been in here for two days, drinking and smoke yourself damn near into a friggin coma!" Joey lowered his head. "Don't do this to yourself. Don't do it to the baby! Abort if you don't want it..but don't bring a child into the world like this. I can't pick up the pieces. Not this time." My eyes filled with tears as I looked at my best friend. He'd always been there, always trusted me. I was the first to know he was gay, first he told when he felt his world was falling to bits. I didn't like the look on his face. It was a look of submission…as if he was ready to give up on me.
"I was ready to abort you know. But..it didn't seem like it was my decision. Like it was you, and Jodie…and Simon..all pushing me. And then I realised if my mum had given in to her parents, I wouldn't be here. I'd be another unborn baby, not given a choice. It's not up to me to play God, Joey. I got pregnant. It may have been stupid..but, fuck, I have to deal with it." I dissolved into teears again. "It just..seems so unfair that he runs off and leaves me..and.. I have to be strong. For me and the baby. But I'm willing to do that Joey! I'm willing! But..i need the support of my friends..especially you!" I realised I was rambling and stopped, looking up at Joey. He was staring at the wall, an angry look on his face. I shrunk back, scared. In the 10 years I'd known Joey I'd never, ever, seen him angry. It just wasn't something he did.
"Honey. There is nothing else in the world that I'd rather do than help you raise this child..but I saw the way your mother struggled when you were growing up. I saw the pain in her eyes when she'd look at you and was reminded of your father. You can't bring a child into the world based on 'maybes'. Perhaps I'm jealous because I'll never have the choice to have a child of my own." He laughed ruefully. "A mental patient can have a child. A couple with no money and no way to support themselves can have a child. But a gay couple?" He laughed again. "Gay people? Everyone knows they can't handle children. Sweetie, you have the rest of your life to have children, to get married and live your life…I just don't think now is the time." I stared at him, troubled by the pain in his eyes. And knew I couldn't bring a child into this world just yet. One person cannot make a difference, in the grand scheme of things…but they can try…
"Joey? When you find "the one", and you want to start a family, can I give you something?"
"What's that sweetie?"
I smiled up at him, his hand in mine. "I want to give you that baby."
He smiled back, tears shining in his eyes. "When that time comes, I'll be sure to give you a call."